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East Sussex County Council using computer experts to target tax fraudsters
Computer experts are being drafted in to uncover council tax fraudsters.
IT firm Northgate Information Solutions will use “data matching technology” to look at council tax benefit claims totalling more than £30 million a year.
A partnership of six authorities in East Sussex is employing the company to investigate the single person discounts of 83,000 council taxpayers.
The discount allows residents living alone to claim 25% off their annual council tax bill worth on average £400 a year.
The review will investigate claims made by taxpayers in East Sussex during the next four years.
Before the review starts, the councils are offering residents a two-week amnesty to give people the chance to come forward to admit if they no longer live alone and have been wrongly claiming the discount.
The amnesty will run until Friday, August 23.
Northgate Information Solutions’s review follows a similar campaign in 2011 and will focus on residents who have claimed the single person discount between November 2011 and March this year.
In a joint statement, the council partnership said: “This review is aimed at protecting the public purse by tackling an area of council tax payments that is vulnerable to fraudulent claims.
“These claims cost councils thousands of pounds a year and ultimately affect the services we can provide for our residents.”
Councillor Jeremy Birch, leader Hastings Borough Council, said: “The vast majority of claimants are fully entitled to the 25% discount, however, there are some who are not.
“The amnesty will give those people the chance to come forward without sanction and we would encourage anyone who may be wrongly claiming to declare themselves straight away to avoid a potential fine.”
A Brighton and Hove City Council spokeswoman said a previous review last year discounts were removed from around 1,200 residents from a total of 42,000 iinvestigated.
She added: “Brighton and Hove City Council is not involved in this particular initiative, but we have already carried out two such exercises of our own in 2010 and 2012, both using Northgate.
“We are intending to run further exercises to review Single Person Discounts in the future."
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